Instant yeast is an important ingredient in a variety of bread recipes, and it is especially valued for its convenience. The characteristic that sets instant yeast apart from other yeasts is the fact that you don’t have to proof it or prepare it, making it incredibly convenient. However, if you don’t have access to instant yeast, there are a few other options that you can turn to.
How can you choose the best substitute for instant yeast? First, you must identify what type of recipe you need the instant yeast for, as this will influence the type of substitute that is most fit for your bread. Active dry yeast, sourdough starter, baking powder, and baking soda are all suitable substitutes for instant yeast.
Besides telling you our top picks for replacing instant yeast, we’ll also answer some of the most common questions that arise when substituting instant yeast.
The 7 Best Substitutes For Instant Yeast
Read on to find out how to successfully substitute instant yeast in a recipe and discover which substitutes are most appropriate for each type of bread or baked good.
|1.||Red Star Active Dry Yeast||High-quality active yeast, best choice overall|
|2.||Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast||Best for baking bread in the oven|
|3.||San Francisco Sourdough Style Starter Culture||All natural, adds unique sourdough flavor|
|4.||Breadtopia Sourdough Starter||Makes bread that lasts longer than bread made with instant yeast|
|5.||Clabber Girl Baking Powder||Best no-knead option|
|6.||Argo Baking Powder||Ideal for avid bakers|
|7.||Pure Organic Ingredients Sodium Bicarbonate||Great leavening agent when paired with acid|
1. Red Star Active Dry Yeast
Red Star makes a high-quality active dry yeast with a considerably longer shelf life, making it an excellent fit for your baking needs.
It comes in a bulk pack (2 pounds) at an incredibly reasonable price, so if you plan on baking a lot of bread, it’s a good product to have on your radar.
This active dry yeast must be proofed, or activated, in warm liquid before incorporating into the rest of your ingredients, but its dry state is what helps to preserve it for longer periods of time.
However, it should be stored in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator.
When using active dry yeast in place of instant yeast, you’ll want to use 25% more yeast than the recipe calls for. So, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, use 2 ½ teaspoons of active dry yeast.
2. Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast
If you’re not the most frequent baker, Fleischmann’s ¼ ounce active dry yeast packets are an excellent option.
These convenient packages will be at your disposal for when the urge to make a delicious loaf of bread hits.
Keep in mind that this product is most appropriate for baking bread in the oven and not a bread maker.
And again, don’t forget to proof the yeast before using. If you don’t, the yeast will be unable to activate and your bread will not rise.
3. San Francisco Sourdough Style Starter Culture
Though it’s neither the easiest nor the quickest way to substitute instant yeast, using a sourdough starter will add a unique and delicious flavor to your bread.
San Francisco sourdough style starter culture allows you to create a sourdough starter at home, and it comes with detailed instructions on how to do so.
This all-natural product is also a great way to add healthy bacterias that boost the nutritional value of your bread.
Though many of us are most familiar with the traditional sourdough loaf, you can even use this starter in place of instant yeast to make pizza dough, soft pretzels, pancakes, muffins, and cakes!
The opportunities are endless, especially because once this starter is activated, it can be used almost infinitely, as long as you keep feeding it.
4. Breadtopia Sourdough Starter
Another excellent sourdough product, Breadtopia makes a starter culture that is sure to add a distinct and delicious touch to your breads and baked goods.
This product comes with enough material to make 3 or 4 batches of sourdough starter at an incredibly reasonable price.
Breadtopia provides all of the sourdough support that you could need on their website, offering instructional videos and tutorials for sourdough bakers of all levels.
This starter results in a delicious and healthy bread that has a longer shelf life and more health benefits than breads leavened with normal yeast.
5. Clabber Girl Baking Powder
While using active dry yeast or sourdough starter are ideal in most leavened bread recipes, baking powder can be an excellent substitute for a variety of baked goods.
Additionally, products made with baking powder don’t have to rise, as the leavening properties of baking powder are activated in the oven, cutting down your cooking time significantly.
It’s important to note that the leavening properties of baking powder won’t be as noticeable as those of yeast or sourdough starter, but it is nevertheless a great option for a plethora of recipes.
Clabber Girl makes a trusted baking powder that works great in quick breads, muffins, cupcakes, cakes, biscuits, scones, and more!
6. Argo Baking Powder
Another trusted product, this Argo baking powder comes in a 60-ounce container, ideal for avid bakers.
This bulk container is an extremely affordable baking powder option for baking professionals and home cooks alike.
If you worry you won’t be able to use it all up quickly enough, simply put some in an airtight bag or container and freeze! Just be sure to bring to room temperature before you’re planning on baking with it.
Another benefit of using baking powder instead of yeast or sourdough starter is that you don’t have to knead the dough for it to rise.
While you do have to mix your ingredients well, ensuring that they are all properly incorporated, not having to knead cuts down on time and effort, allowing you to create delicious baked goods quickly and with ease.
7. Pure Organic Ingredients Sodium Bicarbonate
Finally, if you don’t have access to any of the instant yeast substitutes listed above, you can always turn to our trusted friend sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda.
This food-grade baking soda, when paired with acid, can be a great leavening agent in baked goods if you don’t have instant yeast on hand.
Baking soda won’t work unless paired with an acid, so use lemon juice, white vinegar, buttermilk, or even Greek yogurt to activate its leavening properties.
Baking soda is a great fit for any recipes that you would use baking powder in, such as banana bread, cupcakes, or any similar baked goods.
Active dry yeast vs instant yeast – what’s the difference?
As mentioned briefly above, active dry yeast and instant yeast, though they will yield similar, if not equal, results, differ in a few important ways.
On the one hand, instant yeast comes in smaller granules and absorbs liquid quicker than active dry yeast, and you can add it in with the rest of your ingredients when baking.
That’s why instant yeast is the ideal yeast for making bread in a bread machine.
On the other hand, active dry yeast is dormant, which is why it needs to be rehydrated through proofing before using it. If you don’t proof active yeast, it will not activate when baking, and your bread will not rise.
How do you proof active dry yeast?
Proofing active dry yeast is not as complicated as you may think it is. You simply have to let the yeast sit in warm water until it reactivates, which you will know is happening when the yeast is bubbling and seems alive.
To proof active dry yeast, simply sprinkle your yeast over warm water or milk that has been mixed with sugar (yeast feeds off of sugar).
It’s very important to check the temperature of the liquid (with your finger or a kitchen thermometer) to make sure it’s not too hot, which could kill the yeast. Your liquid should be around 100 degrees F.
Let the yeast proof between 5 and 15 minutes, long enough to see that it’s “alive”, or bubbling. When this happens, you know that your yeast has been activated, and it’s ready to rise!
Can you freeze active dry yeast?
Believe it or not, active dry yeast, like baking powder, can be frozen to extend shelf life. Freezing active dry yeast puts yeast cells in a state of suspension, so they won’t die or go bad. By putting active dry yeast in the freezer, you can extend its shelf life by months.
However, it’s important to bring your yeast to room temperature before using it. Cooking with it when it is still cold could inhibit it from activating.
Why baking powder and baking soda to substitute instant yeast?
Though mentioned above as replacements for instant yeast, baking powder and baking soda cannot be used in every type of recipe that calls for yeast.
Baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents that are activated by liquid and heat in the case of baking powder and acid in the case of baking soda. They don’t require kneading or time for rising.
With this in mind, they cannot be used in bread recipes in which the dough must be kneaded. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly useful substitutes for instant yeast. You’ll just have to get creative when using them if you’re trying to use it in a recipe that requires kneading.